Belfast Telegraph

Carrick knocking on promotion door as they gear up for four 'cup finals'

KEITH BAILIE

Gary Haveron is preparing for four 'cup finals' as Carrick Rangers make one last push for promotion and the Belfast Telegraph Championship One title.

Carrick travel to Knockbreda tonight, before facing Hugh Sinclair's men again on Saturday. They then take on Institute on Easter Tuesday before playing Donegal Celtic on the final day of the season.

With just three weeks to go, Carrick are one of four teams who can still win the league, with Bangor, Knockbreda and Institute all still harbouring title ambitions.

But while four teams can still win the league, only Carrick and Institute can gain promotion to the Premiership, as neither Bangor nor Knockbreda have applied for a Championship Licence.

Manager Haveron believes NIFL should re-assess how the Championship is organised.

“To be honest, I think every team in Championship One should be able to get promotion to the Premiership.

“It would be a much fairer competition if every team in the division had to fill out the form and apply for their licence.

“Carrick, Institute, Larne and Distillery have all worked hard on their licence and I'm sure they've all spent a fair amount of money getting their house in order. Other clubs are able to focus their attention on putting a team on the pitch, and I don't think that's fair.

“I think it would make the title race more exciting if knew that every team involved could get promotion. In theory, Ards could still avoid relegation even if they finish last. I know Niall Currie and he won't want to stay up that way, but I'm sure he will take it.

“Personally, I hope Carrick and Institute are in the top two because then at least one team will go up. For the Championship to flourish we need to have regular promotion and relegation.”

Life hasn't been easy for Carrick Rangers. At the tail end of 2013 a burst boiler caused unrepairable damage to the changing rooms at Taylor's Avenue. Since then the club have played their home games in Larne, while their own ground was under renovation.

Despite these problems, Carrick have maintained a strong title challenge.

Haveron explained: “It's been a difficult season for us, as we've been constantly on the move. I still haven't managed Carrick Rangers in Carrickfergus yet. We've played home games at Seaview and Inver Park, but we're hoping to return to Taylor's Avenue before the season is over.

“We've installed new changing rooms and we're hoping we will be able to play Knockbreda on Saturday, but the ground has to pass a health and safety test first.”

Carrick face Knockbreda in the first part of the double header at Breda Park this evening. If Rangers can claim a win they will return to the top of the table.

Haveron said: “I know Knockbreda have had a couple of poor results recently but they're still a good team and they're not out of it yet. Miguel Chines and James Wright are two excellent players who can hurt anyone.

“This double header, followed by the Institute game will determine our season.

“As far as I'm concerned we have four cup finals between now and the end of the season.

“I think Bangor have a big advantage as they have three home games from their last four, but there is still plenty to play for. If we win all our games and Bangor win all their games, it will go down to goal difference. It's an exciting title race and I think it will go right to the wire.”

Monday's match at Breda Park kicks-off at 6.45pm.

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